WORK on major environmental improvement schemes in Keady and Richhill should get underway in the coming weeks, the Ulster Gazette can reveal.
And it is expected that the work – which will see the centre of both totally transformed – will be completed by November of this year.
The schemes will represent a significant local investment.
The work in Richhill has been estimated in the region of £1.4 million, with a further £1 million earmarked for Keady. A total of £500,000 in grant aid has been secured towards each.
Both have been in the pipeline for the past number of years.
Planning permission for each had been secured as far back as October 2014.
But they have been dogged with difficulties and hampered by delays.
Now Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council has been informed that the works – which will be carried out in a number of phases – should begin before the end of April or early May at the latest.
Following a pre-qualification questionnaire, six contractors had been shortlisted and invited to tender.
Documents were issued to the six in the middle of December past and were due to be returned by the end of January.
The tender is due to be awarded this month and the successful contractor will engage in a detailed design phase, before moving on site in late April or early May.
The work is to be carried out in a number of phases, with three distinct planning applications having been submitted – two in relation to Richhill and one for Keady.
In Richhill the works will centre around the main centre of the village, including the area around the village War Memorial, as well as New Line, Irish Street and the Corcreevy Road.
In Keady, Kinelowen Street, Bridge Street, Market Street and Davis Street, and on to the Armagh Road, will all be subject to environmental improvements.
Other areas also feature in the plans; around the library and the monument, which was erected by the people of the town in honour of William Kirk, will benefit, as will the old mill which was founded by the industrialist.
Throughout both Richhill and Keady, new footpaths and street furniture will be put in place, as well as additional features aimed at enhancing the overall appearance of both.
Junction improvements at Keady – something long campaigned for – will be carried out too.
Initially, when approval was first given, it had been with a view to work getting underway in January of last year.
But, having had to satisfy various conditions and issues later raised in relation to traffic – and historic buildings in respect of the Conservation Area of Richhill – the schemes are at long last scheduled to begin.